Lautaro Martinez claimed Lionel Messi previously attempted to convince the striker to leave Inter for Barcelona.

Messi has since ended a 21-year association with Barca as he joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer, while Martinez recently renewed fresh terms with the Serie A side until the end of the 2025-26 campaign.

The pair enjoyed success at the Copa America last July, collecting Argentina's first major trophy in 28 years as Messi starred with four goals.

But Martinez revealed the Blaugrana legend wanted to partner up with him at club level as well as he attempted to tee up a deal for the Inter man to join him at Camp Nou in 2020.

"We talked about it a lot in the national team, he asked me what the situation was like between me and Inter, but I always remained calm because we talked to the club to find an agreement to be happy here," Martinez told Sportmediaset.

"That's how it went and I'm happy to have stayed, I'm fine in Milan: I like my family."

Martinez, who signed from Racing Club in July 2018, was an integral part of Antonio Conte's title-winning team as he featured in every Serie A game for Inter.

The 24-year-old formed a dominant partnership last season with Romelu Lukaku, who left for former club Chelsea in August, but the Argentina international explained his strike partner's departure was a personal decision.

"Did he regret Chelsea? I don't know, he made a personal choice," Martinez added on Lukaku.

"He was happy at Inter, we talked often but if he chose to leave it was obviously because he felt like it. We are the ones who now work to give Inter the best."

Martinez, who netted 17 times last term, thrived under the now Tottenham head coach as Inter ended a 10-year wait for the Scudetto, but he revealed he is also enjoying life under new boss Simone Inzaghi.

"He's helping me so much," he told Inter's official website when asked about Inzaghi.

"We met when I came back from the Copa America and before that point, we'd already spoken quite a lot on the phone. He's helped me so much with my performances. 

"I always try to learn as much as I can from coaches because they have a wealth of experience and they always try to do the best for their players."

Lautaro Martinez claimed Lionel Messi previously attempted to convince the striker to leave Inter for Barcelona.

Messi has since ended a 21-year association with Barca as he joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer, while Martinez recently renewed fresh terms with the Serie A side until the end of the 2025-26 campaign.

The pair enjoyed success at the Copa America last July, collecting Argentina's first major trophy in 28 years as Messi starred with four goals.

But Martinez revealed the Blaugrana legend wanted to partner up with him at club level as well as he attempted to tee up a deal for the Inter man to join him at Camp Nou in 2020.

"We talked about it a lot in the national team, he asked me what the situation was like between me and Inter, but I always remained calm because we talked to the club to find an agreement to be happy here," Martinez told Sportmediaset.

"That's how it went and I'm happy to have stayed, I'm fine in Milan: I like my family."

Martinez, who signed from Racing Club in July 2018, was an integral part of Antonio Conte's title-winning team as he featured in every Serie A game for Inter.

The 24-year-old formed a dominant partnership last season with Romelu Lukaku, who left for former club Chelsea in August, but the Argentina international explained his strike partner's departure was a personal decision.

"Did he regret Chelsea? I don't know, he made a personal choice," Martinez added on Lukaku.

"He was happy at Inter, we talked often but if he chose to leave it was obviously because he felt like it. We are the ones who now work to give Inter the best."

Martinez, who netted 17 times last term, thrived under the now Tottenham head coach as Inter ended a 10-year wait for the Scudetto, but he revealed he is also enjoying life under new boss Simone Inzaghi.

"He's helping me so much," he told Inter's official website when asked about Inzaghi.

"We met when I came back from the Copa America and before that point, we'd already spoken quite a lot on the phone. He's helped me so much with my performances. 

"I always try to learn as much as I can from coaches because they have a wealth of experience and they always try to do the best for their players."

Christian Eriksen has been training in Denmark with former club Odense for the first time since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

In concerning scenes, Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's tournament opener against Finland in June and was given CPR before subsequently undergoing successful heart surgery.

The 29-year-old was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), meaning he is unable to play in Serie A due to not meeting the "requirements of achieving sporting fitness" in Italy.

Eriksen would be allowed to play in other domestic leagues across Europe and, according to reports from BT in Denmark, the midfielder has been using his former club OB's training facilities to improve his fitness.

The former Tottenham man has been working with a personal trainer at OB's Adalen training ground and reportedly took part in numerous drills on Wednesday.

"We are really happy that Christian Eriksen is keeping in shape right now on our courts," OB's sports director Michael Hemmingsen told BT.

"We have kept in touch with Christian since he switched from OB, and therefore we are happy that he asked us if he could retrain in Adalen."

Eriksen played youth football for the Danish Superliga side before joining Ajax in 2008, later going on to represent Tottenham and current employers Inter.

Barring one visit to Inter's training ground in early August and a trip to visit his international team-mates, Eriksen has rarely been seen in public since the worrying event against Finland, with his future remaining unclear for the moment.

Is Robert Lewandowski's time at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich coming to an end?

Lewandowski has called Bayern home since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

However, the 33-year-old Poland international is reportedly ready for a new challenge.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SET ON MADRID MOVE

Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has ordered his agent to finalise a transfer to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Lewandowski has repeatedly excelled for Bayern, where he has broken numerous records, while he was unfortunate not to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or.

Previously linked with a move to the Premier League, Lewandowski appears to be set on a switch to Madrid, where his former team-mate David Alaba now calls home.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Fiorentina want to sell Dusan Vlahovic abroad but the Serbia international is not interested in Arsenal as he eyes Juventus. Vlahovic has also been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Bayern. It comes as Sky Sport Italia says Fiorentina are close to signing Lille forward Jonathan Ikone.

- Interim United manager Ralf Rangnick will try to convince Erling Haaland to leave Dortmund for Old Trafford, per Bild. Rangnick and Haaland worked together at Salzburg. Haaland is a player in demand amid interest from Madrid, Barcelona, Juve, Bayern, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain. Since Rangnick's arrival, United have also been linked with RB Leipzig pair Christopher Nkunku and Amadou Haidara, as well as Chelsea forward Timo Werner.

- Record reports Dortmund are keen on Benfica and Uruguay attacker Darwin Nunez amid uncertainty over the future of Haaland.

- Premier League champions City have scouted Bologna and Sweden sensation Mattias Svanberg, according to Nicolo Schira.

Simone Inzaghi has challenged Inter to strive for more following their 2-0 win over Spezia.

Goals from Roberto Gagliardini and Lautaro Martinez gave the Nerazzurri a third successive Serie A win for the first time under Inzaghi.

It was a dominant performance at San Siro by the hosts, who registered 31 shots on goal – the most by any side during a single match in the Italian top flight this season.

Victory ensured that Inter remained in third place and maintained pressure on Napoli and Milan.

Though full of confidence and 10 matches unbeaten heading into Saturday's showdown with Roma, Inzaghi has urged his players not to rest of their laurels.

"It was an important game," he said. "The guys were amazing, they entered immediately with the right attitude, and I am very satisfied.

"Closing the game without conceding a goal is a reason for satisfaction. 

"We played a careful game without disuniting, despite the fact that we had in front of us a team all closed and ready to start again. 

"I'm very, very satisfied with the guys, but we know we haven't done anything yet and on Saturday, we have another challenging match ahead of us.

"We are growing. Difficult matches await us but with this union and with this desire, we can do even better."

Gagliardini's first goal of the season set Inter on their way; the midfielder becoming their 13th different scorer this term.

The Italy international has found the net in 13 different Serie A matches for the Nerazzurri, who have gone on to win on each occasion.

"I always try to score goals when I have the opportunity. I'm glad I did it again tonight," he said.

"I am the 13th scorer of the season: it is the testimony that we always plays well, we always have many scoring opportunities. Victories come thanks to everyone's work.

"We are a solid group, we are the reigning Italian champions and this thing gives us great awareness. 

"The match in Rome is very important for our path; we will have to put in all the necessary energy and concentration."

Inter saw off Spezia 2-0 at San Siro to make it three Serie A wins in a row under Simone Inzaghi for the first time.

The in-form hosts defeated leaders Napoli and lowly Venezia in their previous two league outings and were good value for their latest victory at home to Spezia.

Roberto Gagliardini rounded off a nice team move to give Inzaghi's men a half-time lead and Lautaro Martinez, who created the opener, doubled his side's tally from the penalty spot to seal the victory.

Inter climb two points above Milan in second and within a point of Napoli, but those two teams are in action later on Wednesday against Genoa and Sassuolo respectively.

Spezia had lost each of their last four away games, conceding 14 goals in the process, but they held firm until unlikely scorer Gagliardini made a breakthrough after 36 minutes.

Danilo D'Ambrosio played the ball inside to Martinez, who flicked it into the path of Gagliardini to sweep away from Ivan Provedel into the bottom-left corner.

Samir Handanovic was required to keep out a Kelvin Amian header before half-time, though Inter gave themselves some breathing space just short of the hour mark.

Having already rattled the crossbar with a powerful drive, Martinez's next shot hit Jakub Kiwior on the arm and the forward made no mistake in converting the resulting spot-kick.

That made it goals in each of his last three league games for Martinez and, while neither he nor his team-mates could add to the scoring, Inter saw out a routine victory.

 

Denis Zakaria looms as an attractive signing, with his contract due to expire.

The Borussia Monchengladbach star is not short of admirers.

Liverpool and Barcelona are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – ZAKARIA TO LIVERPOOL OR BARCA?

Liverpool lead Barcelona in the pursuit to sign Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria, according to El Nacional.

Zakaria is available on a free transfer at the end of the season and the Switzerland international has been heavily linked with Jose Mourinho's Roma.

He has also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, however, Premier League giants Liverpool and LaLiga powerhouse Barca are believed to be set to battle it out.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Anfield and Fichajes claims Liverpool have joined the race to prise Adama Traore from Wolves. Traore has also been linked with Barca and Juventus.

Paul Pogba is unlikely to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club abroad, says The Athletic. Pogba's United contract expires at the end of the season and Frenchman has been tipped to join either Real Madrid, Juve or Paris Saint-Germain.

- Premier League champions City are working to re-sign Riyad Mahrez, per The Sun. PSG are reportedly eyeing the Algeria international, who is contracted to City until 2023.

Newcastle United are set to make a move for Donny van de Beek, according to El Nacional. Van de Beek has found his chances limited at Manchester United and Newcastle are ready to pounce.

- After appointing Ralf Rangnick until the end of the season, The Times claims United's interim manager is targeting RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta downplayed interest in Dusan Vlahovic as clubs reportedly queue up to sign the Fiorentina star.

Vlahovic is set to leave Fiorentina after opting against signing a new deal in Florence, with the Serbia international's current contract expiring in June 2023.

The 21-year-old has been linked to Serie A champions Inter, Juventus, Premier League holders Manchester City, Manchester United, Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich, LaLiga titleholders Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Marotta was asked about Inter's rumoured interest in the in-demand forward.

"He is a talent, I know there is a conflictual situation with Fiorentina, but I hope they can solve their issues," Marotta said.

"However, we have a good mix of young and experienced players in that department."

Vlahovic has 28 Serie A goals in 2021 – no Fiorentina player has ever scored so many goals in a calendar year in the Italian top flight.

Only Bayern talisman Robert Lewandowski has netted more in the top five European leagues this year.

Vlahovic is also the third Fiorentina player to score at least 11 goals in the season's opening 14 Serie A matches since 2000.

Manchester City's forward pursuit has dominated headlines.

Since Sergio Aguero left for Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's champions have been targeting a replacement.

Karim Benzema could reportedly fill the void.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO CITY?

Manchester City want to sign Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, according to El Nacional.

Premier League champions City are desperate to bolster their attack, having missed out on Tottenham's Harry Kane following the departure of Sergio Aguero at the start of the season.

Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic have been linked, but Benzema – out of contract in 2023 – has emerged as an option.

 

ROUND-UP

- Nicolo Schira claims Bayern Munich are set to battle Chelsea for Federico Chiesa. The Italy international is on loan at Juventus from Fiorentina and set to join the Bianconeri permanently at the end of the season. However, if Juve fail to qualify for the Champions League, rivals could pounce.

Barcelona are eyeing a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, per Mundo Deportivo. Martial has found game time hard to come by at Old Trafford.

- SuperDerpote claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric would be open to leaving for City. Modric is out of contract at the end of the season. It comes after Marca said Los Blancos are not interested in United star and soon-to-be free agent Paul Pogba.

Marcelo Brozovic is set to re-sign with Serie A champions Inter, according to Tuttosport. Brozovic has been linked with United, Barca and PSG.

Simone Inzaghi scoffed at the idea of this being a "transition year" for Inter as the reigning Serie A champions showed they are firmly in the title hunt again.

Wholesale change at San Siro has not affected the Nerazzurri's ambition, and a 2-0 win at Venezia ramped up pressure on early front-runners Napoli and Milan.

Inzaghi arrived in the close season to replace Scudetto-winning boss Antonio Conte, while star men Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi left in big-money transfers. Christian Eriksen has been unavailable since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 while on Denmark duty.

Inter appear to have chosen shrewdly by bringing in Inzaghi from Lazio as head coach, while players such as Hakan Calhanoglu and Edin Dzeko have been acquired too.

Calhanoglu's fourth goal of the season – matching his Serie A haul for previous club Milan last term – put Inter on their way against Venezia, before Lautaro Martinez made sure with a stoppage-time penalty.

For Calhanoglu, this was the third successive Serie A game in which he has scored, the first time he has achieved that feat.

Inter duly moved within a point of Napoli and Milan, who are in action on Sunday, and Inzaghi said: "Some people said this was supposed to be a transition year to rebuild. I came in and the club helped me in everything. These players are magnificent and I think we're getting better by the day. We have to keep going like this.

"I'm coaching a group of great players and great men. We got straight down to work in the summer and despite losing Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen, we brought in players suited to the way we want to play. Now we're continuing to grow one step at a time."

 

Inter were dominant and deserved winners at Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, capping a week in which they made sure of their place in the Champions League knockout stage by beating Shakhtar Donetsk. They also beat Napoli last weekend, inflicting a first league defeat of the season on Luciano Spalletti's men.

"It's a great period for us and this was a big week," Inzaghi said, quoted on Inter's website.

"We played some lovely football and the only downside was we couldn't get the second goal to put it to bed earlier. Leaving the game open against a dangerous, well-drilled side like Venezia is always risky. But it was our third game in a short space of time and the lads did a fantastic job."

There were drawbacks to the win in Venice, with Inzaghi reporting Matteo Darmian suffered a "twinge in his thigh".

"Hopefully it's nothing serious. He's a very important player for us," Inzaghi said.

And Calhanoglu came off early in the second half having needed a thigh massage during the interval.

Inzaghi said the Turkish midfielder was "doing brilliantly" for Inter, adding: "After three consecutive games I didn't want to risk him so I took him off 10 minutes into the second half."

Inter moved back to within a point of Napoli and Milan thanks to a 2-0 win at Venezia on Saturday, as Hakan Calhanoglu scored in a third consecutive Serie A game for the first time in his career.

Simone Inzaghi's men defeated leaders Napoli last weekend to boost their title defence, and they never looked like dropping points in Venice.

Venezia, who were chasing a third successive Serie A win for the first time since 1962, failed to impose themselves in the first half and deservedly trailed at the break to Calhanoglu's low drive.

Only Bayern Munich and Liverpool had scored more goals than Inter across the top five European leagues before the weekend. While that did not translate to a free-scoring exhibition this time, Inter finished Venezia off with a late Lautaro Martinez penalty to keep pressure on the top two ahead of their Sunday outings.

Despite dominating, Inter did not threaten the Venezia goal until the 30th minute when Sergio Romero leapt across his goal to keep Ivan Perisic's header out.

Romero was helpless soon after, however, as Calhanoglu squeezed a skidding 25-yard shot just inside the left post.

Venezia almost levelled with their very first shot five minutes later, with Samir Handanovic tipping Mattia Aramu's long-range piledriver over the crossbar.

Aramu went close from distance again just after the break, this time just missing the top-left corner after cutting in from the right wing.

Inter woke up again as Edin Dzeko tested Romero, before Ridgeciano Haps cleared a Milan Skriniar header off the line to keep Venezia in the game.

Romero made several more fine saves, but the visitors finally got the clincher at the death. Haps was deemed to have committed a handball in the box and Martinez confidently dispatched the resulting spot-kick.

Another day, another Kylian Mbappe rumour.

The Paris Saint-Germain and France forward has long been linked with Real Madrid.

Madrid's high-profile chase could be reaching a conclusion.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID'S MBAPPE PLAN

Real Madrid's plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe has been revealed, according to the front page of Saturday's Marca.

Mbappe is Madrid's top transfer target, with the PSG forward out of contract at the end of the season and both parties have made no secret of their admiration.

The recent report claims the offer is "unrejectable" as Madrid's interest dates back to Mbappe's time at Monaco in 2017.

Marca also reports Madrid are set for a busy January amid interest in other soon-to-be free agents – Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are negotiating a move for Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, though the Premier League champions are not interested in selling the Spaniard.

Bayern Munich could look to sign Barca goalkeeper and Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen in 2023, per El Nacional.

- Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo is wanted by Serie A rivals Juventus and Antonio Conte's Tottenham, claims Calciomercato.

Juve are eyeing Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic as an alternative should they miss out on in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, according to Todofichajes. Vlahovic has been linked with City, United, Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Inter and Tottenham.

- The Star says Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips will turn down a move to Old Trafford. Phillips has attracted interest from rivals Manchester United but the England international midfielder is unwilling to spark backlash from fans.

It has been a turbulent period for Manchester United, but they appear on the cusp of solving one issue.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gone, struggling United need a new manager and while Mauricio Pochettino seems to be the dream appointment, the Red Devils are reportedly closing in on a short-term solution.

Ralf Rangnick.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TURN TO RANGNICK ON SHORT-TERM BASIS

Manchester United are set to appoint former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick as interim manager, according to The Athletic, ESPN and widespread reports.

After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United outlined their plan to install an interim boss until the end of the season amid reported long-term interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag.

There had been reports United could turn to Pochettino immediately but a deal to prise the former Tottenham boss from Paris proved difficult.

Instead, United have offered Rangnick a six-month contract at Old Trafford, where the 63-year-old German is set to take up a consultancy role once his interim tenure ends.

Rangnick is currently head of sports and development at Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea are plotting a move for Italy star Federico Chiesa, who is still on loan from Fiorentina. Juventus are set to sign Chiesa permanently at the end of the season, though he is wanted by a host of clubs, including Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

- United have emerged as a possible destination for in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports the Daily Mail. Vlahovic is wanted by Manchester CityAtletico Madrid, JuveInterArsenalTottenham and Bayern but the Red Devils are believed to have joined the race.

Barcelona could sell Memphis Depay to help in their efforts to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Depay only joined Barca on a free transfer at the start of the season, but the financially stricken LaLiga giants are among the long list of Haaland admirers. Haaland has been linked with CityUnitedReal MadridBayernLiverpoolChelseaJuve and PSG.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Stefano Pioli will sign a new contract with Milan on Friday. The Rossoneri head coach is set to extend his deal until June 2023, with the option of a further season.

Head coach Simone Inzaghi warned Inter not to rest on their laurels after continuing their impressive form with victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Nerazzurri moved to the brink of qualification for the Champions League last 16 as Edin Dzeko scored both goals in a 2-0 win at San Siro.

After making it two wins from two following the hard-earned 3-2 victory over Napoli on Sunday, the reigning Serie A champions are now unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions.

And Inzaghi urged his players to ensure they continue their momentum.

"We needed this victory," he said. "We had created a lot in the first half and a bit of tension had built up, so Dzeko's first goal was a release. 

"Qualifying for the knockout stage would be a great achievement.

"I think that we played a great game and let's not forget that we are just over 48 hours away from a match [against Venezia on Saturday] like the one with Napoli in which we have spent a lot of energy, including mental energy. 

"We are in a good moment, but we must continue on this path."

Dzeko's brace secured the points on Wednesday, the striker netting his 50th European goal along the way.

Inter previously had two goals disallowed with Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez denied, but Dzeko believes the hosts were rewarded for their patience and perseverance.

"Inter signed me to score goals and I'm trying to make my contribution," the former Manchester City forward added.

"In the first half, we made a lot of mistakes, but their goalkeeper was also good. 

"We earned three crucial points.

"The ball did not want to go in in the first half, but also the second half seemed cursed with the goals disallowed.

"You have to be patient, without conceding a goal, and then in the second half, we finally managed to score two."

Edin Dzeko scored his 50th European goal as Inter took a huge stride towards the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The former Manchester City striker netted a brace at San Siro as the Nerazzurri moved to the brink of the last 16.

Dzeko opened the scoring with a clinical finish in the 61st minute, before sealing the win six minutes later with a close-range header.

Simone Inzaghi's side move to the summit of Group D and will secure a top-two finish if Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol later on Wednesday.

Inter asked Shakhtar plenty of questions during the first half with 14 shots on goal.

The visitors had Anatolii Trubin to thank as the goalkeeper made strong blocks to deny Lautaro Martinez and Dzeko, while Andrea Ranocchia headed a decent opportunity wide from a corner.

Inter thought they had taken the lead when Ivan Perisic drilled home in the 24th minute, but the effort was ruled out after Hakan Calhanoglu strayed offside.

Chances for Shakhtar were few and far between at the other end, although Samir Handanovic was called into action to deny Fernando following a strong run.

Inter had the ball in the net again 12 minutes after the restart, Martinez volleying past Trubin, only for his strike to be ruled out for a push.

But there was no denying the hosts four minutes later as Dzeko fired home from just inside the box after Matteo Darmian's initial effort ricocheted kindly into his path.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international doubled his tally within six minutes, popping up at the far post to head home Perisic's inviting cross and secure the points.

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